There are plenty of big UFC events coming up in the summer and fall months.
The biggest of the year, at least out of events that are currently planned, takes place in early July when Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen hook up in the most anticipated rematch in UFC history. And then there's the Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson fight on September 1st; you can't tell me you aren't looking forward to that one, if only to see how the ageless wonder fares against one of the most talented fighters in the world.
Unfortunately, UFC 147 is not one of those anticipated events.
When it was first booked, UFC 147 looked like another major Brazil offering from the UFC. It was going to take place in a giant soccer stadium and would feature Silva going for revenge against the trash-talking Sonnen in front of his own countrymen. But issues with noise ordinances in Sao Paulo forced the event to move back to Rio de Janeiro. Then a United Nations summit put the kibosh on the soccer stadium concept.
And so Silva vs. Sonnen was moved to UFC 148 in Las Vegas, and Wanderlei Silva vs. Vitor Belfort was announced as the new main event for UFC 147.
Silva vs. Belfort wasn't a gigantic fight, by any means, but it had plenty of intrigue. The two coaches on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil developed some true bad blood while filming the show, and while it didn't have the cachet of a Silva-Sonnen rematch, it was still a decent enough main event.
But then Belfort broke his hand, forcing him out of the fight and into the operating room.
The UFC looked long and hard for a replacement for Belfort. Most of the bigger-name fighters in the middleweight division already have fights booked, so they started looking at the light heavyweight division. What they ultimately found was an old, reliable light heavyweight who was planning on moving back to middleweight to face Cung Le at UFC 148: former middleweight champion Rich Franklin.
A rematch between Silva and Franklin isn't the greatest main event in UFC history, but it's not the worst. Not by a long shot. The first fight—which took place way back at UFC 99—was a fun bout between two experienced veterans. I think the rematch will be more of the same.
Another interesting aspect to the fight: It's a 190-pound catchweight bout. Off the top of my head, it will be the first 190-pound fight in UFC history. We've seen Franklin compete in numerous 195-pound catchweight bouts—his first bout with Silva was contested at that weight, in fact—but never 190. When the first fight happened, Franklin was in the process of moving up to light heavyweight after seeing his middleweight future dimmed by two consecutive losses to Anderson Silva.
This time around, Franklin is on his way back down to the middleweight division he once ruled with an iron fist, while Wanderlei is already competing at middleweight. With less than a month to go until the fight, asking Franklin to get down to 185 would be quite the stretch, so 190 makes a lot of sense.
UFC 147 isn't going to light the world on fire. It's short on name value, long on untested Brazilian prospects, and with a co-main event of Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow. But the UFC is making the best of a bad situation, and Franklin is once again proving that he's willing to help his long-time employers out whenever he can. And Silva vs. Franklin 2 may not mean much for the future of the middleweight division, but I'm looking forward to it all the same.